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Introduction to Water Unit
We created a handout with the questions listed below.  Students paired off by threes and answered the questions. We found that there were advantages, both academically and socially; students learned how to problem-solve and work as a team member.  We discussed question one before moving on to question two.

   1. List five things you need in order to stay alive. 

With this question, our goal was to have students understand the importance of water to human survival.  This activity generated a lively discussion and for the most part, students identified the need for water, air, food, fire, sleep and a suitable climate in order to stay alive. The discussion included speculation on how long one could live without any of these items.

    2. Make believe that you were the leader of a tribe many years ago. Your job was to find a place to settle and make a home for the men, women, and children of the group.  Where would you choose to build your camp? Why?

With this question, our goal was to have students understand how settlements grew around a body of water.  We wanted the students to think about how certain physical characteristics of the location, specifically water, made human habitation sustainable by providing transportation, food and safety. Some students had difficulties answering this question because they could not think back to a time before there were established cities and countries. In addition, most were confused between thinking about a physical location versus a specific city or country. Once we were able to examine the answers given, most students were able to adjust their thinking. This is a sample of responses to the question: Mexico, Florida, Matunuck Beach, a reservation, at the beach, by a pond, on a lake and in the woods.


We then wanted to show how much of the planet earth is composed of water.  The students identified bodies of water such as oceans, rivers and lakes on both globes as well as on maps, with some extra emphasis on the maps of Rhode Island.

Having established that the about 75% of the planet earth is covered by water as well as how important water is to human survival, we used the following experiment as a hands-on demonstration of how much of the earth's water is available for human use. Click on the link below and choose "All the Water in the World" (PDF file).

This experiment was extremely successful because students could look at and touch the different colored sections in order to conclude just how much water there was available for human use. The set up of the experiment also allowed them to grasp the concept of percentage.

Choose one, but if you want, you can do it all.

1. List some ways you use water and estimate how much you use everyday.

2. Write a paragraph on how water gets to your home using the vocabulary sheet. (see water cycle link for vocabulary sheet)

3. Draw the water system in your home.

Also, do this as homework.

Make a list of things we studied in the first class.  What did you learn?

What did you like about the class?

What did you not like about the class?

What would you change?

Is there anything about the theme of water that you would like to learn?

Comments: When answering question #1, student estimates of their daily water usage was grossly underestimated.  We tried to get students to understand how much water they used and how much they wasted in a 24-hour period. We discussed different ways in which one could easily save water;  for example, brushing one's teeth with the faucet turned off only uses about 1 quart of water, whereas leaving the faucet on during the process uses approximately 20 gallons of water. For more information refer to the following water facts.

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